Sep 5, 2023 - News

Denver homes prices out of reach for many teachers

Data: National Council on Teacher Quality; Note: Salary estimated for teachers with a Bachelor's degree and 15 years of experience in each area's largest school district. Homeowner cost estimate includes mortgage, fees and utilities; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Denver's dearth of affordable housing is taking its toll on teachers and exacerbating the city's educator recruitment and retention challenges.

Driving the news: A recent report from the National Council on Teacher Quality found that typical homeownership costs in the city are 33% of an experienced teacher's salary.

  • Spending more than 30% of your gross salary on housing is considered cost-burdened by experts, according to NCTQ.

Why it matters: Many teachers simply can't afford to live where they work, which can have repercussions on the quality of students' education, Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, told Axios.

Zoom in: Locally, there have been some efforts to help, including Denver schools playing a large role in connecting teachers to housing programs that offer down payment assistance.

  • In Pitkin County, Habitat for Humanity helped build 27 homes for teachers behind Basalt High School.
  • And earlier this year, officials in Douglas County pushed forward a plan that would create low-income housing to help attract and retain teachers.

Yes, but: Advocates of housing and education say much more needs to be done to address the problem.

  • Some have called on Denver Public Schools to lease unused land throughout the city in hopes of freeing up hundreds of acres for potential homes.

Zoom out: In an effort to combat a chronic teacher shortage, a handful of school districts across the country are focusing on housing.

  • Los Gatos, California, built an affordable housing teacher complex in partnership with a nonprofit earlier this year.
  • Austin Independent School District in Texas is looking for development partners to build and manage two teacher housing complexes on unused district land within the year.

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